The Problem With Birth Control Pills + IUDs for Endometriosis
When it comes to “treating” endometriosis, the traditional medical system generally uses one of two avenues to “correct” the hormone imbalances present in endo in hopes of reducing pain and other symptoms.
The first is hormonal birth control, in the form of the pill, the patch, the shot or an IUD. The second is surgery, usually a laparoscopy or in more severe cases, a hysterectomy.
In this article I’m going to shed some light on why the various forms of hormonal birth control like the Pill and IUDs can be problematic for Endometriosis, despite what doctors may say.
If you’ve read my post on why endo is so painful then you know that Endometriosis is in large part a condition of inflammation, and resulting immune dysfunction and pain.
So, it makes sense that when we want to naturally reduce endo pain and symptoms, decreasing inflammation is an important step, and one I heavily work on with my private clients.
When using birth control, inflammation rises. In one study, researchers looked at women using the Pill and their levels of the well-known inflammation marker, c-reactive protein. In this study, oral contraceptive use was the strongest predictor of low-grade inflammation in the body, and was quite prevalent compared to women not using birth control, and also compared with men.
More inflammation potentially means more symptoms in the case of endometriosis.
Use of birth control has been linked to changes in our microbiome, or the environment in our gut. We need a delicate balance of “good” bacteria, or probiotics, to “bad” bacteria, like pathogenic viruses, yeasts, etc. When there’s too much bad, two things happen (well more than two, but two very relevant elements to endo).
First, imbalances in our gut microbiome impairs estrogen metabolism. Women with endometriosis are often estrogen dominant (too much estrogen in relation to progesterone), and this increased estrogen can develop into more endo tissue.
Second, gut bug imbalance (aka dysbiosis) leaves your body a breeding ground for inflammation- which we already know is a big no-no for endometriosis.
Bonus: The pill has also been linked to causing depression, due to nutrient depletion and dysbiosis, among other things.
Using hormonal birth control like the pill or an IUD creates hormonal imbalance. True, doctors will often give it for this very purpose- to keep estrogen from going crazy and to stop periods altogether.
However, this is counterproductive.
When using hormonal birth control, you do not ovulate. Therefore, any bleeding you have between pill packs is known as “breakthrough bleeding”. This is because in order to have a true period, you must ovulate. No ovulation = no period.
When you purposely prevent your body from ovulating, your body will not have the normal ups and downs of estrogen and progesterone through the cycle.
Other Side Effects
There are so many other side effects of using these “treatments”, such as:
- Breast tenderness
- Blood clots
- Female cancers (such as breast cancer)
- Weight gain
- Mood changes
- Missed periods (see section above)
- Decreased libido
- Vaginal discharge
- Headaches and migraines
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack and stroke
- Gallbladder and liver problems, including benign tumors
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Candida (yeast) overgrowth